In a divorce case the court has the authority to award spousal support, which is sometimes called alimony (although not in Oregon). Spousal support comes in three types, compensatory, maintenance, or transitional. Transitional spousal support is for a temporary period of time and is when the parties have disimilar earning capcities and one party needs money for a temporary amount of of time in order to get back on their feet, receive an education, or acquire a job in order to balance out their earning capacity. Compensatory spousal support is for a temporary period of time and is appropriate when there has been a significant financial or other contribution by one party towards the education or vocational training of another. Maintenance spousal support can be either temporary or permanent and is reserved for long term marriages where long term payments to another party are appropriate to balance out the standard of living. This situation generally arises when one party is the bread winner in the family and the other party raised the children or maintained the home. In this situation the court may order one party to pay the other maintenance spousal support on a permanent basis.
Spousal support awards, like property dissolutions, are based largely on equity (fairness). The law is based on the concept that each party has contributed equally to the marriage and it would be unfair to let the CEO spousae continue to live a life of luxury while the homemaking spouse is destitute following a divorce. It is the goal of the courts to ensure that each party is on equal footing after the divorce, and sometimes that necessitates the payment of spousal support anywhere from a few months to the life of the parties.
Spousal support can be paid by wage witholding if there is a child support award, electronic fund transfer, or good old fashioned cash or check. If one party fails to pay their support interest generally accrues, and the aggreieved party can file a contempt motion to force payment or garnish wages which can carry a penalty of attorney fees against the party failing to comply with the judgment.
If you are facing a divorce and there is likely going to be a spousal award for some period of time it is almost always a good idea to get an attorney. Although attorneys can carry a large up front cost, a $500 difference in the payment or receipt of spousal support multiplied by 48 months can be far more expensive.
As always, if you are in or around Portland, Multnomah County, or Clackamas County, give me a call and I would be more than happy to advise you of your rights or represent you in your divorce matter.
Jeffrey K. Traylor
Multnomah Legal LLC
"Your Family's Lawyer"
1500 SW 1st Ave. Ste. 920
Portland, OR 97201
Phone: (503) 427-8054
Fax: (503) 715-5660
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